Tuesday, May 26, 2020

the waking life

it's not very often that i blog about something i've watched or read, but there's something i've re-watched recently as an exception to my rule "life's too short for reruns" just because it's so good: the movie, "waking life"

i've watched the movie several times before, and every watch results in a different part of the movie resonating with me. this time, it was this one line:

Actually, the gap between, say, Plato or Nietzsche and the average human is greater than the gap between that chimpanzee and the average human.

this is something i've thought about many times over (well before the re-watch, in fact, and for the last few months if not more), and tried to make my guiding force as a human being.

living life at a higher level than a chimpanzee is not very easy. our world is engineered to keep us at that level. work (ie the civilized equivalent of searching for food), preparing and eating food, maintaining and feeding our interpersonal relationships, maintaining our homes, religion, and to top it all, entertainment. pure mindless entertainment. sports, news, sitcoms, action, sci-fi. all of these appeal to our baser instincts which have not really changed much even though our genes and surroundings have.

thinking about chimpanzees reminds me of my visit with my parents last year at the belfast zoo. the chimps in their enclosure were so human-life it was simultaneously fascinating and eerie.

some time later, while i was introspecting, i realized not much of my life was beyond the realm of a chimp who had grown up in my surroundings would do. sure, i exceeded the chimp's ability in some aspects, (the term code monkey is a joke, i'm sure) but what am i actually doing with my ability? am i using my ability to fulfill the same drives as the average chimp?

and in all seriousness, what is it that separates us from chimps?

i don't have the answers, but while i look for mine, i hope others start doing the same. us humans have turned into a race of sophisticated chimpanzees.

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